There’s No Irony In My Uff Da

If only I had a dollar for every time my parents made us listen to their cassette tape copy of How To Talk Minnesotan.

Actually they made everyone who came over to our house listen to How To Talk Minnesotan. Even if they had come over many times before. My mom would just listen and laugh her head off; it was like each time was their first.

Growing-up, I didn’t think much of my accent because we all had one.

In addition to pronouncing our often parodied “O’s,” we called soda, “pop,” ordered cream cheese wontons at Chinese restaurants, and played Duck Duck Grey Duck on the school playground. College was my first time living out of Minnesota. It’s not like I even moved that far, merely one state down. But it wasn’t until we had to participate those silly college orientation games that I learned most people play Duck Duck Goose.

I used to feel self-conscious about my accent. Now, I wear it like a badge of honor. I love my Minnesotan accent.

The first time I realized how much I loved it was last year. I had just published a Youtube video reviewing some food product, and an Iowan friend made a comment leading with something like, “Well, you can sure take a girl out of Minnesota but. . . ”

I thought it was awesome.

Jake and I never realized how excited about Minnesota we were until we moved away. Don’t get me wrong. I am truly thankful for the opportunities to live in North Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri. These states can always consider me one of their life-long cheerleaders. But, my home state will always be my home state and that’s just the way it is.

“Uff da” flies out of my mouth as a natural reaction to something overwhelming. It’s part of our lexicon. Sometimes I catch my husband doing the same. We exclaim it without irony.

pronto pup

Earlier this week, someone commented on my pronunciation of the word “bag.” “I think that woman’s from Minnesota too!” someone said. I asked him how he knew this to be true and he replied, “She just said bag  the way you do! “Bayg.”

“Yes, well isn’t that how you’re supposed to say the word “bag”?

My favorite example occurred this winter. One morning in December, it snowed a lot. Not Minnesota a lot, but St. Louis a lot. I work in our city’s downtown area where street parking is limited and meters are aggressively enforced. “Have they called a snow emergency yet,” I asked my supervisor.

“Oh my god. A snow emergency? What is that?!” he replied.

I tried to explain the Twin Cities’ snow emergency system, of first confirming that the city officially called one, followed by keeping track of what side of streets you are supposed to park on to avoid receiving a ticket. “You can even download an app!” I added.

He looked at me like I was mad.

The actual reason why I think I’m so excited about my Minnesotan accent and vocabulary, though? It makes me feel connected to our home state all of these moves and all of these years later. It’s something I can bring with me whether I go, whether I like it or not. Fortunately, I like it.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    I think it is funny when people comment on my accent because I don’t think I have one at all. I love all the Minnesota terms that you say and I love the fact that your home state will always be a part of you. As it should be.

    • Jeni

      I think you have a very soft southern accent. It’s probably a little more NC by now:)

  2. Katie

    Heck yes! I love saying Uff Da, it fills so many good voids in conversation.

  3. Will@Road Tips

    Years ago, vacationing around Detroit Lakes, I asked for a Coke. The waitress said, “Excuse me?” “A Coke,” I replied. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” she said back. I said, “Coke. Coca-Cola.”

    “Ohhhh… A COKE!” (She said it with a hard long “O”)

    Never had that problem asking for a Coke in Iowa before.

    I need to have a linguist listen to how I say Coke to see what kind of symbol goes above the “O”…

    • Jeni

      lol. You’ll have to record yourself saying it sometime for us to analyze.

  4. Dad Flaa

    We like your Minnesota accent too!

  5. Alicia Schmitt

    “Bayg” haha! I have been called out on that word too. I love every bit of this post Jeni!

    • Jeni

      lol. You are on the border so practically a Minnesotan:)

  6. Angie

    I love this 🙂 I went to TN a few years back and someone said omg you’re from MN aren’t you?! I’m like what accent? But I do catch myself talking totally Minnesotan all the time & proud of it too (like you).
    Now I have to go see if I can find “How To Talk Minnesotan”!

    • Jeni

      I bet How to Talk Minnesotan is digital lol. Sign of my age. The accent just comes out whether we like it or not. That’s funny that you were recognized right away

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